If the Washington Spirit had a mantra going into today’s match, it might well have been “Don’t give up a late goal.” In their inaugural match on the road against Boston, they let one in in second-half stoppage time to turn a win into a draw. Then last week in their home opener they gave up a goal in the 84th minute, and only midfielder Diana Matheson converting a penalty kick shortly thereafter kept that game from being a loss.
In this match, though, they went to the other extreme for untimely goals, getting scored on 90 seconds into the first half and under three minutes into the second. An anemic Spirit offense that has so far managed just two goals from the run of play in 270 minutes was unable to keep up, and Washington fell to Sky Blue, 2-1.
The first goal came on a textbook play as Danesha Adams sent a corner kick in from the right to the far post, where defender CoCo Goodson – at 5’11” two inches taller than anyone on the Spirit roster – ran on and headed the ball just inside the post.
Washington came back in the 35th minute. Stephanie Ochs collected an attempted clearance on the left and fed Lori Lindsey making an overlapping run through the back line. Lindsey drew the defense’s attention as she drove for the top left corner of the box, then fired the ball across to a streaking Matheson, who with a defender on her shoulder fired the ball into the left side netting from seven yards out.
That lead would only last about 14 minutes of game time, though, as in the 48th minute Danesha Adams sent a long ball over the top for Australian speedster Lisa De Vanna, who drove hard to the end line, drawing two defenders, then sent the ball back into the box to an oncoming Sophie Schmidt, who with Lindsey trailing a couple of yards behind had no problems putting the ball in the net.
The Spirit offense had 42 minutes in which to equalize but were unable to do so. Forward Stephanie Ochs could seldom get into position for a dangerous shot, while Tiffany McCarty had opportunities but was slow to take advantage of them. Matters looked more promising after Caroline Miller – reportedly frustrated at not cracking the starting lineup – entered for McCarty in the 71st minute and made a strong statement for herself by blocking clearances and then in the 79th minute dodging defenders to get in a cracking shot from the left that Sky Blue goalkeeper Tiffany Cameron had to make a diving, fingertip save on to redirect it outside the right post.
Sky Blue looks to continue their winning ways on the road in Sahlen’s Stadium, Rochester, NY, in the new league’s first midweek game, Wednesday, May 1, at 7:05 pm. Meanwhile, Washington will need to regroup in time to face the formidable Portland Thorns, at the Soccerplex on Saturday, May 4, at 7 pm.
Photos courtesy of Tony Quinn
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